At the recent Miami International Boat Show, visitors and exhibitors were anxious to see the newest offering from Sarasota's own legendary boat builder, Chris Craft. The Carina 20 did not disappoint anyone in Miami: This is a luxury yacht tender to the old days of the vertical stainless steel bow plates, custom deck hardware, upscale upholstery, and total comfort for passengers and crew. The Carina 20 comes at a time when Chris Craft is very optimistic about its prospects and the growth of the regional economy.
The last couple of years have been crucial for Chris Craft. According to a recent article by Stephen Frater of the Bradenton Herald, the manufacturer is producing as many as 350 boats a year. This may be a far cry from the 1,000-plus boats delivered in the early 21st century, but Chris Craft is confident that a full financial rebound is in the horizon.
The boating industry is crucial to the Southwest Florida economy. Boat builders and boating enthusiasts have been a staple in Sarasota and Manatee counties for many decades, but the industry suffered a great deal when the housing bubble burst and the Great Recession set in. Local boat builders, dealers and marinas suffered as a result, and Chris Craft was able to hold on thanks to its longevity.
Now that conditions are improving and economic confidence is returning to the region, Chris Craft is returning to its luxury roots with models like the Carina 20. This is good news for the industry as a whole since other boat builders are likely to resume production and start hiring. Southwest Florida and the Gulf of Mexico is a paradise for fishing and boating enthusiasts, and thus home shoppers interested in properties with marina and dock access will likely turn their attention to real estate in Manatee and Sarasota counties.